Updated: Aug 26, 2022
Triple Extension may well be your best friend when it comes to training and building explosive power and speed.
Big call? I don’t think so.
WHAT IS TRIPLE EXTENSION?
Triple Extension is the simultaneous extension of three joints: the ankle, the knee and the hip.
When you can effectively lock the hip, knee and ankle at the same time - the entire chain will move much more explosively as a whole. This means you will be placing more force into the ground and propelling yourself forward (or vertically) at a higher rate.
This is not just specific to Rugby, it is useful in a lot of sports. But what it means for you as a rugby player, is that when you can extend all these powerfully at the same time – you will produce maximum power and explosive speed on the field.
It is also the component which is most common through all the movements of a strong, fast and powerful rugby player. Acceleration and Change-of-Direction come straight to mind.
HOW DO I DO IT?
In sprinting, your hip extends first, providing not only power from the glutes but balance to take the simultaneous step. Then, the knee locks to expend power from the quads, and finally the ankle kicks in to propel you off of the ground with your foot.
Look at this image - this Rugby player’s hip, knee and ankle form a straight line. This is Triple Extension and will result in maximum power being generated into the ground propelling the player’s body forward with speed.
BUT, WAIT THERE’S MORE..
In addition to improving your performance, the concept of triple extension is very important for injury prevention. All the joints need to be able to move efficiently throughout the entire range of motion, or else one cannot fully extend, and if they do, injuries are bound to occur.
Also, by understanding that the hip, knee, and ankle joints work sequentially to perform explosive movements, you can understand why ensuring that each one in itself is effective in its movement. Otherwise, the other two joints will cop it, and you’ll end up off the field, not on it.
SO HOW DO WE DO IT?
Obviously I’m going to tell you that you need to be practising this during training. I’m The Rugby Speed Coach so I kind of have to! I know, so boring right?
No, not at all.
Not when you want to become a more powerful, faster rugby player. So I will say it again – you need to be practising, practising and then practising some more.
Make sure you are:
1) Doing drills that extend at the hip, knee, and ankle simultaneously
2) Focusing on extending all three joints powerfully, to bring you to your maximum potential
EXERCISES THAT PRACTICE TRIPLE EXTENSION
1. BOX JUMPS
When it comes to box jumps, you’ve probably seen videos all over You Tube of athletes jumping on boxes stacked on top of boxes. I don’t care how high of a box you can jump on, I’d like to see you focus on Triple Extension for this purpose.
I recommend performing 4 sets of 4 reps.
With feet hip width apart stand about 30cm behind a box
Lower into a quarter squat and immediately explode up as high as possible
Land softly and quietly with your feet on the box
Step off the box. Don't jump off
2. MEDICINE BALL OVERHEAD THROW I like using other Medicine Ball variations to teach a powerful hip extension like a Scoop Throw.
Beginners: 2-3 sets of 4-6 repetitions
Advanced: 3 sets of 2-5 repetitions
· Start of feet shoulder width apart
· Hinge the hips back holding the ball between the knees into a squat position
· Once at the base of the squat immediately explode out of the squat by gaining triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips as you granny toss the medicine ball directly overhead in an arching pattern
2. DUMBELL SWINGS
This exercise will also fire the glutes.
I recommend performing 3 sets of 10 reps.
Grab a dumbbell and hold it up the top of the handle
Set your feet shoulder-width apart.
Without rounding your lower back, bend your knees slightly, push your hips back, and swing the weight between your legs.
Once the weight is behind you, forcefully contract your glutes and thrust your hips forward to swing the dumbbell up towards your head. The momentum of your hip thrust should swing the dumbbell upward.
Get cracking on your Triple Extension and let me know how you go!